Chinese official admits to sub-par performance of Chinese vaccines . . .
In a rare admission, the head of the Chinese Centres for Disease Control (CCDC), Gao Fu, told a conference on Saturday that Chinese vaccines for COVID-19 “don’t have very high protection rates.” He later claimed that the comment was misconstrued, suggesting this acknowledgement is not the official position. Official or not, his statement seems to confirm suspicions that arose from the CCDC’s failure to release Phase III data for any of its vaccines. China stated that the efficacy of its Sinopharm vaccine is 79.4 per cent, but Brazil reported Sinopharm’s efficacy at just 50.4 per cent. In contrast, Pfizer and Moderna have demonstrated over 97 per cent efficacy. Gao further stated that the CCDC is looking at ways to boost efficacy, including mixing different vaccine formulations and extending the time between doses, although the details have yet to be released.
Relying on proven technology . . .
China got a head start in the vaccine race, issuing emergency use authorizations for vaccines from CanSino and Sinopharm as early as last July. So far, China has approved four domestically-developed vaccines for public use and has just granted emergency use authorization to a fifth. Three of the Chinese vaccines approved so far are based on inactivated forms of the virus. A fourth vaccine uses a human adenovirus as a delivery vehicle, and a fifth uses viral proteins to elicit an immune response. Meanwhile, China has not just eschewed but has publicly denigrated the novel mRNA technology that forms the basis of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, suggesting that their safety has not been proven.
Not just a vaccine . . .
Unlike other vaccine-producing nations, China has not prioritized domestic supply. Instead, it has aggressively pushed exports in a form of ‘vaccine diplomacy,’ selling and even donating vaccines to countries that cannot afford the more expensive vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna. Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Brazil all have Chinese-made vaccines as part of their rollout programs. China’s vaccine overtures, initially meant to counter hostility received as the origin of the pandemic, have since expanded. China recently struck a deal with the International Olympic Committee to provide vaccines to athletes of the high-profile Tokyo Olympics and has been accused of offering vaccines to Paraguay in exchange for that country revoking its recognition of Taiwan.